We complete the Group D with the presentation of the Nigeria national football team, as the Super Eagles start their 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign as +333 underdogs against Croatia on June 16th, 2018, at Kaliningrad Stadium in Kaliningrad, while six days later they meet Iceland as +200 favorites at Volgograd Arena in Volgograd. Their final match of the group phase is set for June 26th, 2018, at Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg when Nigeria faces Argentina as a huge +600 out-of-towner.
The Super Eagles have reached the FIFA World Cup for the sixth time in their history, and the biggest success so far is the Round of 16 at USA 1994, France 1998, and Brazil 2014, while the bookmakers set them as +225 favorites to replicate this result. Nigeria will have a difficult time to reach the second round in Russia 2018, as the competition in the Group D is pretty tricky, but the Super Eagles have already announced they are aiming their first World Cup Quarter-Finals.
Winner: +20000 at Bet365 Sportsbook
To Reach Semi-Finals: +2500
To Reach Quarter-Finals: +1000
Group Qualifying Yes/No: +225 / -300
Group Phase Matches:
|Nigeria||Croatia||+333||+240||-118||+120 / -154|
|Nigeria||Iceland||+200||+190||+160||+135 / -175|
|Nigeria||Argentina||+600||+300||-200||-150 / +115|
The vast majority of Nigeria’s players perform all around Europa, besides a couple of guys who play in the Nigerian Premier League, while the captain and the leader of this generation is a 30-year old midfielder John Obi Mikel (82 caps, 6 goals) who’s a member of Tianjin Teda from China. Mikel played for Chelsea in the English Premier League for nine seasons, and his presence on the field is essential for the Super Eagles. Alongside John Obi Mikel, the biggest stars of this Nigeria team are the pacey forward Ahmed Musa (67 caps, 13 goals), who currently performs in Russia for CSKA Moscow and the versatile midfielder Victor Moses (30 caps, 10 goals) who plays for Chelsea mostly as a full-back.
At the back, the 30-year old left-back Elderson (60 caps, 3 goals) is the most experienced player who’s a member of Cercle Brugge at the moment. The centre-back duo should be Leon Balogun (15 caps) from Mainz and William Troost-Ekong (17 caps) from Bursaspor, while Trost-Ekong’s teammate Shehu Abdullahi (21 caps) will probably take his place at the right-back. In the midfield, Ogenyi Onazi (48 caps, 1 goal) from Trabzonspor, and Wilfred Ndidi (14 caps) from Leicester City will both play important roles, while the fans expect a lot from Alex Iwobi (14 caps, 4 goals) who plays for Arsenal.
The 64-year old head coach Gernot Rohr doesn’t have a lot of experience on the highest level despite his age, so it will be very interesting to see how he’ll cope with the pressure. Rohr mostly prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation with Onazi and Ndidi as two anchor-man, while John Obi Mikel plays as an attacking midfielder, but sometimes against the stronger oppositions, he can change it to a 5-3-2 formation with three centre-backs and two full-backs.
The road to 2018 World Cup: Nigeria qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after finishing at the top of the African qualification Group B table with 14 points, a 4-2-0 record, and a 12:4 goal difference, ahead of Zambia, Cameroon, and Algeria, while a half of their six matches had more than two goals in the total. At home, the Super Eagles have recorded three victories with an 8:1 goal difference, while on the road, they’ve earned one win and two draws with a 4:3 goal difference.
Gains: The frontline should be their most powerful weapon, as Nigeria possesses a lot of options in the final third, while their players are pretty fast with solid dribble skills. Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi are all dangerous with the ball on their feet.
Shortcomings: The defensive line is certainly the weakest part of this Nigeria team, as there is no true leader who can make the others better players, while the short bench could be also a big problem if they struggle with injuries or suspensions.
Players to Watch: Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses, Wilfred Ndidi
Top Goalscorer: Alex Iwobi +15000, Ahmed Musa +20000
MY PICK: Nigeria vs. Iceland Both Teams to Score YES (-105) – this should be a decisive encounter for both teams, and I expect to see at least one goal in each net, as both sides are stronger in the front than at the defensive line. If one of the rivals break the deadlock, the other one will push forward in numbers, for sure.
ADDITIONAL PICK: Nigeria to Finish Bottom of Group (+140) – I think the Super Eagles are a pretty unpredictable team, but due to their inexperience, I believe they will fail to reach the second round, while the market on them to finish on the bottom of the group table looks quite tempting.
Against the Odds: Nigeria to Reach the Round of 16 (+225) – as I’ve already said many times, all four sides in the Group D are strong teams, and while Argentina seems like a certain participant of the second round, all other three teams have decent chance to finish in top two, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Super Eagles in the FIFA World Cup Round of 16 once again.